Mon, Jul 08, 2019 - Page 5 News List

Indonesia’s loved disaster agency spokesman dies

The Guardian

Indonesian National Agency for Disaster Management spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, who continued to provide updates on the country’s inordinate number of natural disasters even as he suffered lung cancer, has died aged 49.

Sutopo, known affectionately across the country as Pak Topo, an amalgamation of the Indonesian word for “mister” and an abbreviation of his first name, had been undergoing cancer treatment in Guangzhou, China.

The news was confirmed by the agency and Sutopo’s eldest son, Ivanka Rizaldy.

“Tonight, a hero and my beloved father, Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, has returned to God while undergoing treatment in Guangzhou, China. To all friends and family, we ask for your forgiveness and prayers for Pak Sutopo. Thank you for everything you have given me Pa, I will always pray for you,” he wrote on social media, alongside a family portrait, with his father, mother and younger brother.

Known for his indefatigable commitment to the job, personal mission to combat fake news, as well as his quirky sense of humor, as often displayed on his Twitter account, Pak Topo was yesterday hailed as “true servant of the nation” by Indonesian social media users, including Indonesian President Joko Widodo.

Last year, Sutopo revealed his own personal disaster, announcing he had stage-four lung cancer and might not survive a year.

Even as he became increasingly gaunt and unwell, Sutopo remained deeply committed to his job, writing press releases from his hospital bed.

In an interview with the Guardian in November last year, he said he thought about quitting, but could not bring himself to do it.

“I thought, my illness is my fate, I was destined to it, so I have to keep working, it is my responsibility,” he said.

“Life isn’t determined by how long we live, but how useful we are to other people. That’s what I do,” Sutopo said.

“Although the doctors say that I don’t have so much time left, in my last days, I want to try to do good, to be useful. That’s so much better than having a long life, but making people miserable,” he said.

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